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April 29, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Keith Law

Klaw
  (1:01 PM)

Let me apologize in advance for saying something unflattering about your favorite team or player. Now go get your binky.

Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez (The Bank)

The Ryan Howard extension seemed fair to us. Verrrrrry fair.

Klaw
  (1:02 PM)

Meanwhile, Chase Utley just lit the Phillies' clubhouse on fire.

Eric (Hoboken, NJ)

Do you think Hoffman is done?

Klaw
  (1:02 PM)

I thought so last year. I was off by a few innings.

David (Dallas)

Nice win by Harden last night. If he ends up winning the Cy Young award this year we'll point to that first 5bb, 2k win as the moment he turned it around.Seriously though, Rich Harden: injury, headcase, or both?

Klaw
  (1:03 PM)

I think his shoulder may be beyond redemption. He has changed his arm action to compensate for something in there - pain, soreness, bone grinding bone into a fine powder - and as a result he's working towards that golden ratio of a walk an inning.

David (Dallas)

Is there any reason to keep pitching Harden when Holland has shown solid command and control in OKC?

Klaw
  (1:04 PM)

On the face of it, no. I don't know if there's something they're working on with Holland - he's not a finished product - but he'd be better than the Walkman.

Jason (Palo Alto, CA)

Klaw, thanks for taking the time to chat with us baseball geeks. Would you agree with me that the Giants should see what Posey can do at 3rd base as opposed to wasting his athletic abilities at first base when he's not catching - a la Coltrain Martin? Posey at 3rd, Panda at 1st, minus Huff from lineup = a few more wins for the Gigantes!

Klaw
  (1:05 PM)

Too much risk - don't play a guy out of position (in the infield, at least) and risk having him get hurt because it's unfamiliar.

steve (grand rapids)

who replaces hoffman if he cant turn it around?

Klaw
  (1:05 PM)

Parra?

Victor (LA)

Do you think Rob Rasmussen can stick as a starter in the pros, or is his small stature more likely to require a move to the pen?

Klaw
  (1:06 PM)

He's got four pitches, and if he improves his command/control - which is not a given - I think he could start, and even be a mid-rotation guy. I'd hate to see a team take him and consign him to the pen just because he's 5'9" or 5'10".

John (Philly)

Hey Klaw,At 18, Wilmer Flores is posting a .357/.400/.560 slash line, albeit w/ a 6:9 BB:K ratio, through 19 games in Savannah. Will he/should he see AA this year?

Klaw
  (1:08 PM)

Moving him to AA risks repeating what happened last year, where he struggled because he was just very young for his level. High-A, sure, but AA seems too aggressive right now.

Josh (Lincoln, NE)

More nasty comments: NL Cy Young ballot last year or Ryan Howard article?

Klaw
  (1:09 PM)

NL Cy. Most Phillie fans who wrote did so to say they agreed with me. Only a few RBI zealots wrote to tell me Howard was awesome and that the earth was flat.

Scott (NC)

I have read about other statistical tools to measure a pitcher. What do they take into account that WHIP does not? I am new at this, so I am not arguing, just trying to understand. I thought that WHIP was the best tool to gauge a pitcher.

Klaw
  (1:11 PM)

Because a pitcher doesn't control whether a ball he allows into the field of play becomes a hit or an out, WHIP includes a component (the H) that includes noise from defense and luck. There are several other stats that try to get around that issue, like FIP, which estimates a luck- and defense-neutral ERA based on a pitcher's strikeout, walk, HBP, and home run rates.

Bryan (MA)

Is Lars Anderson figuring things out? He's been hitting the ball really well lately.

Klaw
  (1:12 PM)

It's a small sample, but this is more of what I expected of him heading into last year.

Ruben A. (King of Prussia Mall)

Keith, I found this shirt I really like. I'm not going to need it for another 18 months and comparable shirts are going for around $40 but I'm thinking of offering the cashier $75 for it. Good idea?

Klaw
  (1:12 PM)

I'm sure the Salvation Army would take it in 2016 for a $5 tax writeoff.

Bob (Chantilly, VA)

KLaw, what's the difference in the daily transactions listing between a player whose contract was "selected from Triple-A team X" vs. being "purchased from Triple-A team X"?

Klaw
  (1:13 PM)

You purchase a player who's not on your 40-man roster. The term is a bit of an anachronism.

kl (philly)

klaw, in all seriousness, if the phillies did not extend howard, he would be a free agent, and someone would give him that contract.

Klaw
  (1:15 PM)

First of all, he wouldn't be a FA for two years, so there was no urgency. Second, who's giving him that contract? The Yankees? Kind of occupied at 1b. The Dodgers? I believe Jamie is getting first base in the divorce. Boston? Youkilis, Lars, Rizzo, and a FO that's pretty in tune with things like aging patterns. Cubs? More likely to cut than add payroll. Texas? No money now, and they have Smoak. What would be the realistic market for Howard? It seems pretty limited to me.

Jon (DC)

Whether its valid reasoning or not, Rizzo seems to be big on "clubhouse character." Could you see him passing on Harper for that reason? And would Machado be worthy of a number 1 overall in this class?

Klaw
  (1:18 PM)

Harper doesn't have character issues. If the Nats were to pass on Harper for whatever reason - I could see cost being a factor for any club, Machado would be my second choice.

Matt (Pittsburgh)

Keith, assuming the Nationals take Harper, if the draft were held today, would the Pirates go with Machado, a pitcher, or someone else?

Klaw
  (1:18 PM)

I've heard them strongly on Machado and Pomeranz. The tradeoff is the higher-ceiling bat against the faster-to-the-majors arm.

J.P. (JC)

In addition to many high payroll clubs already having 1b locked up, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and possibly (though highly unlikely) Pujols will also be FA's at that time. I'd take any of them over Ryan Howard.

Klaw
  (1:19 PM)

Yes, I forgot that point as well.

Jeff (Ann Arbor)

"Second, who's giving him that contract?"Mets.

Klaw
  (1:20 PM)

With whose money?

Mel (Salt Lake City)

Ian Stewart has exceeded expectations thus for in replacing Atkins. Do you think he puts together a few 30 homer seasons while hitting .280 or better?

Klaw
  (1:20 PM)

Yes.

Brian (Boston)

Hey KLaw, I noticed you have Pat Dean from Boston College in your top 100 draft prospects. Do you think any other current members of the BC roster have a chance to succeed at the next level? Particularly, what are your thoughts on Mickey Wiswall?

Klaw
  (1:21 PM)

Dean has to show he can stay healthy - and, by the way, nice job by the coaching staff at BC, running him out there long enough when he came back from the first injury to put him back on the shelf. Exactly how many arms do they have to endanger before the AD steps in? Wiswall's really gone backwards this year, power is the only tool.

Benny K (Jupiter, FL)

Wathced Kyle Gibson toss a 1-hit CG gem today in a morning FSL game. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single fly ball out. What's your opnion of his cieling and his ETA?

Klaw
  (1:23 PM)

Number two starter ceiling. He could pull a Garza and reach the majors in September, otherwise early to middle 2011. Nice job by the Twins hanging with him in the draft despite the injury.

Shelly (Des Moines)

He is hitting .410 21hr 59rbi in 47 games and is slg. 917. I know its JC and its not the highest competition but that is amazing. and did I mention its with wood bats? Am I crazy or is he the best posistion prospect in ten years or more?

Klaw
  (1:25 PM)

I wouldn't put Harper over Upton in his draft year, for one. But it's extremely impressive. Talked to a national guy this morning who said to him Harper's improved significantly at the plate as the spring has gone on.

rob (philly)

Klaw, have you scouted former first rounder Anthony Hewitt lately or at all? I had him written off as a complete bust, but he seems to be off to a good start this season. Any chance he's a late bloomer and could actually contribute at the ML level at some point?

Klaw
  (1:26 PM)

He has a .315 OBP, 3 BB, 26 K, and he's 21, so he's old for the level. After Hewitt's first summer, I asked Clay at BP if he could find anyone who'd been that bad (striking out in nearly 50% of his PA) at any level and had a productive big league career, and I believe Glenallen Hill was the only one.

Steve (Columbus, OH)

If the draft was today, what's the top five.

Klaw
  (1:27 PM)

Best guess right now would be Harper, Machado, Taillon, Grandal (that's just the rumor of the week for KC), Pomeranz - OR Harper, Pomeranz, Taillon, Grandal, Choice, with Machado probably going 7 to the Mets.

Jason (St Louis)

Are you going to do some kind of mock draft before the draft happens? I'm already jonesing for one since the NFL draft is all done. Who do you see the Cards taking late in the first round and do you think there will be any potential impact guys available for their two sandwich picks?

Klaw
  (1:28 PM)

Yes, I start doing projections about two weeks before the draft. First top 100 ranking went up Monday, and I'll update that either late next week or early the following week.

Jake (NYC)

Your take on BP's take on the Howard contract? It seemed contrarian, at best. At worst, it seemed like the writer came to a conclusion first, then built a case around that conclusion.

Klaw
  (1:31 PM)

My main objection - the piece was by Matt Swartz, and it's worth your time to read it - was the implication that all inflationary scenarios were equally likely. We have just come out of a high-inflation (salary inflation, that is) period that corresponded with a long economic expansion, one that is unlikely to recur in the near future. Unless you think that 1) players are going to see their share of industry revenues expand or 2) the industry's revenue model will change in a way to allow continued 10% year-over-year revenue growth, that high-inflation scenario seems a lot less likely than 2-5% salary inflation.

Brad (Ontario)

Any indications as to who the Jays are looking at? I know they've been linked to the Florida HS shortstop but that's the only name I've heard.

Klaw
  (1:32 PM)

I have heard several prep arms with them, including Aaron Sanchez. I did hear one rumor that they were on Michael Choice, but it doesn't fit for me - they have Lind and Snider, and Choice is another guy in the same mold.

Matt (NJ)

Keith, with the eight pick in the draft what are the chances Austin Wilson falls to the Mets and what are the chances they take him and sign him?

Klaw
  (1:33 PM)

He's not a consideration there. I haven't heard him in the top 10, and the betting in the industry is that he's going to school.

Don (Lincoln, RI)

Klaw - After a slow start by Jon Lester, great effort last night. No reason to panic, right? After all, you agree that he is one of the better lefties in the game? Thanks!

Klaw
  (1:34 PM)

Agreed. No reason to panic - didn't Sabathia have four lousy starts to open 2008, after which he went on a tear that didn't seem to end till October?

matt (cleveland)

What would it take to pry Ackley from the Mariners? He would fill a great need in Cleveland...Choo?Sizemore?

Klaw
  (1:34 PM)

Why would the Mariners trade him? Because he'd fill a great need in Cleveland?

Mr. SKIA (MrSportsKnowItAll.com)

Keith, Strasburg signed a 4-year, $15.1 million major league deal. I understand pushing back free agency, but isn't he already under contract for 2013, when he could in theory be a Super-2? Does arbitration supersede an existing deal?

Klaw
  (1:35 PM)

I believe he can opt out if he's arb-eligible, although I'd have to double-check that. Most of Boras' clients have received that clause when signing major league contracts out of the draft.

Keith (Cleveland)

do you take any baseball related questions, or only questions about the draft and Ryan Howard?Have you seen any improvement in Mike Stanton's approach that would make you believe he is cutting down on his strikeout rate? I know it's early, so it's hard to tell in the #s right now.

Klaw
  (1:36 PM)

The baseball draft isn't baseball-related?

jesus quintana (LA)

KLaw, your thoughts on the newest report on the decrease again of african americans in bb?

Klaw
  (1:37 PM)

The cause is at the youth level. I see no evidence that African-American players are at any serious disadvantage with amateur scouts or in player development. I have noted that they're evaluated differently, but I don't see a systemic disadvantage.

Oak (NYC)

What you got on Mike Antonio out of George Washington High in Washington Heights?

Klaw
  (1:37 PM)

He seems more likely to go to St. John's than sign.

Eamon (DC)

Klaw, how old is too old for High-A? Example: Mitchell Herold (Salem) is killing it (0.68 ERA/0.38 WHIP but .108 BABIP against) but he turns 24 in a few weeks and is older than most of the guys on the team. Is this a case of a guy beating up on younger/less experienced players, just luck, or is he actually a prospect?

Klaw
  (1:39 PM)

Weren't you in Greenland? Way too old for high-A.

Mike (MO)

Can Kolbrin Vitek stay at 2B? His bat is legit, and would make him that much more valuable.

Klaw
  (1:40 PM)

No, he's probably headed for the outfield.

Adam (Ft Wayne)

If Howard is worth $25 mil/yr to the Phillies, how much is Utley, who as anyone would attest to is a better defender and a better hitter at a more premium position, couldn't he go to the front office and say "Hey, I want $30 mil a year?"

Klaw
  (1:41 PM)

He's signed through 2013, so technically, no. But if I'm his agent I'm sending a dozen black roses to Amaro every day until they renegotiate.

Jimmy (LA)

Mike Trout is off to a flying start, projections on him?

Klaw
  (1:42 PM)

He might end up in my top 10 (overall - not just the Angels' prospects) next winter. Potential superstar, CF with plus bat, speed, above-average power.

Ryan (Milwaukee)

Care to gloat a little about being so right about Trevor Hoffman?

Klaw
  (1:43 PM)

I don't like seeing anyone fail, even when I've more or less predicted it. And there's certainly no joy in watching a guy who's had a nice, long career go all Steve Carlton on himself.

Tony (Chicago)

Do Brett Wallace's stats so far (.288/8hr) indicate a shift in hitting approach (more loft, less "hitting") or just small sample size anomaly? Any anecdotal wisdom? Any reason not to see him in June in Toronto?

Klaw
  (1:44 PM)

I've always thought he'd hit for above-average power - a guy with 25 HR power in the majors could certainly hit 8 in a month in AAA in a crazy hitters' park.

SAM (Boston)

You seem to have an opinion on everything...usually negative. What is your opinion of UZR rating. Does it actually help win games in your view?

Klaw
  (1:45 PM)

I think that is the worst question I have ever received in a chat.

Jim Pappas (Torrance, CA)

Greetings,What do you think of the idea of shortening the regular season to 154 games, or some other number?

Klaw
  (1:46 PM)

I don't like that or adding a round of playoffs. The long regular season is a competitive advantage for baseball - those games have more meaning than a regular-season NHL game, where everyone gets a certificate for showing up and a first-round bye. Also, wouldn't cutting 8 games from everyone's schedules hurt non-playoff teams by robbing them of four home dates?

mendel (fl)

The biggest knock on Stanton is that he isnt ready evidenced by his penchant to strike out. But last time i checked (yesterday) he has a 20/19 BB/K ratio, which is probably better than most of the current marlins team! When can we expect to see him?

Klaw
  (1:47 PM)

Small sample, again. But I doubt he's down there more than another 4-6 weeks.

Ryan (San Diego)

Hoffman always has poor aprils. Go back and look at the numbers

Klaw
  (1:47 PM)

He's given up 6 home runs. That's a full year's worth for many relievers.

Stan (St Louis)

Jaime Garcia has a 71% GB/FB ratio, which even for a Dave Duncan guy is huge. Is this for real?

Klaw
  (1:48 PM)

He's always been a groundball guy, no? The knock on him was his conditioning and his arm action.

jeff (tx)

example # 3212344321 why wins are worthless.... zack greinke in 2010

Klaw
  (1:49 PM)

Greinke for his last 46 starts, per Joe Posnanski.

Brian (Richmond, Ky.)

Here's a non-stat question for you: best and worst ballparks you've seen games in?

Klaw
  (1:49 PM)

Worst was the Metrodome. Best is probably PNC Park.

Jason (St Louis)

Is Brentz going to go top ten? Could he slide to the 20's? How close to ML ready is that bat?

Klaw
  (1:50 PM)

I think he goes between 10 and 20, at least at the moment. I think he's fairly advanced, but not a Wallace-Smoak type.

ED (ALBANY)

Hey Keith, where does a guy like Dave Fliak get drafted?

Klaw
  (1:51 PM)

I've heard as high as the sandwich round and no worse than the third. Lot of guys running in there to see him Saturday.

Ray A. (San Diego, CA)

Odds Dylan Covey dons a USD Toreros uniform a la UCLA's Gerrit Cole?

Klaw
  (1:51 PM)

5%.

tick (ettoride)

Klaw- what kind of performance from Ryan Howard would justify that bloated contract?

Klaw
  (1:51 PM)

He'd have to improve on what he did last year and hold that level of performance into his mid-30s. That rarely happens to players like him.

Will (Mactaquac)

You and some of your ESPN colleagues could raise a tonne of money for charities by auctioning off hour-long phone calls to your readers. I remember your ballpark visit contest from a couple of years ago.

Klaw
  (1:52 PM)

I think we're doing that (come to a game with me) again this year, although I'm waiting for word from WGBH. I'm certainly up for it - it was fun and it raised money for my daughter's favorite channel.

Cheng (Boulder, CO)

Waaa, waaa, K-Law is a meany to my Braves ... Ok, now that I got that out of the way, what do you think about the Rockies sending Chris Iannetta to Colorado Springs to clear his mind?

Klaw
  (1:54 PM)

I'm not a fan of those seemingly punitive demotions for poor play in a tiny sample of games. Unless there's something off the field I don't know about.

Mike (MO)

For the $$, would you rather have McGuire at 6, or Wimmers at 22? Very similar upside.

Klaw
  (1:54 PM)

I wouldn't say they have very similar upsides. But if we're talking slot for each, I might prefer Wimmers there.

Simon (Cheltenham, UK)

Mr Law I do not believe that you are mean-spirited at all, You simply engage in the coin of the milieu, and quite well! Is Mr Victor Martinez really all as bad behind the dish as he recently appears, and how might this effect his future employment? Thank you, and all the best to your family.

Klaw
  (1:56 PM)

This is far worse than I expected from him defensively. I'm not sure what I'd do with him - you can't extend a catcher who already is showing you he might not be able to stay there.

Craig (NYC)

What are your thoughts on Manny Parra, reliever? Can he be the eventual answer at the end of games for Milwaukee?

Klaw
  (1:57 PM)

I've thought so for a while. He's a different cat out of the pen, and he's not exactly been Mr. Durable as a starter, although some of his injuries have been fluky.

Scott (NC)

So if FIP is a better (or more accurate) tool, there should be a difference when comparing FIP to WHIP, right? There should be pitchers that have a high(er) WHIP but FIP would still indicate that they are a good pitcher. I guess what I am asking is the H portion of the WHIP statistically significant over the course of a season?

Klaw
  (1:59 PM)

Depending on your perspective, FIP is either a better predictive tool for future performance, or it gives you a clearer picture of how the pitcher actually pitched when you strip out extraneous variables like run support, bullpen support, and defense.

Ray A. (San Diego, CA)

Keith, Can you explain to me why USD pitchers Kyle Blair and Sammy Solis were not on your top 100 Draft prospects list? Where do you see them going in the draft?

Klaw
  (2:00 PM)

Solis could go in the second round, maybe sandwich, but he's an average-fastball/good-changeup lefty who's had back trouble, and that kept him off the list. Blair's just not very good, nowhere close to what he was out of high school, doesn't pitch inside, velocity isn't there, slider isn't sharp.

Niles (Portland, Or)

Klaw, What goes into determining your list of the top 100 players for this year's 2010 MLB draft? Also, thank you for putting out such a list.

Klaw
  (2:01 PM)

That's my opinion, based on what I've seen live, what I've seen on video, and what scouts are telling Jason and me about players.

Billiam (San Fran)

I've seen you mention that you wouldn't be caught dead purchasing services from AT&T. I'm curious as to why that might be. AT

Klaw
  (2:02 PM)

Multiple awful customer service experiences. Haven't given them a dime in years.

Nate (Kansas City)

This past week has made me glad I follow you on Twitter. I learned two really important things: One, that Stan Musial and Hank Aaron were great because they had a ton of RBIs, and not the other way around. Two, that you can and should account for future stats when voting for a season award (Re: Because Vasquez stinks in '10, he shouldn't have gotten a Cy vote in '09). Please stay on the front line in the war against the ignorant - it gives the rest of us a good laugh!

Klaw
  (2:03 PM)

Thanks. I'm posting this mostly just to plug my Twitter feed (@keithlaw) and fan page on Facebook - I update both regularly with links to articles, scheduled radio/TV hits, and one-liners.

Mark R (Moscow, ID)

I've heard it suggested that David Price's step forward actually began when he introduced a two-seamer halfway through last season. Does that jibe with what you've seen?

Klaw
  (2:03 PM)

Talked to a front office exec who's seen him this year and said the fastball command was much improved, the changeup was better, and the slider was as good as ever.

Jason (St Louis)

So the top 100 isn't necessarily going to be the top 100 drafted or in that order, correct?

Klaw
  (2:04 PM)

Exactly. That'll be a separate piece, later in May. Grandal was on my 2007 top 50, for example, but he was the 834th pick because of signability.

Joe P. (Bangkok, Thailand)

I'm always hearing about how teams do not want to go over slot on draft picks for fear of upsetting MLB. MLB cannot really punish teams for doing so though. So why are teams so scared to upset MLB? Is there something MLB can do to them I don't know about?

Klaw
  (2:06 PM)

Many clubs receive money from MLB for various reasons, and much of it is doled out at the Commissioner's discretion. I know we were loosely told that some of that money might go away when we (Toronto) gave Schoeneweis a two-year deal.

Klaw
  (2:07 PM)

I think there are also some execs who feel like they're holding the line for the industry when they adhere to slot. That's admirable, I guess, but really bad for your immediate employer.

Andrew (WI)

I'm a relative n00b on sabermetrics. I know one of the big things is that RBI is meaningless, but has anyone attempted a stat where you take RBIs and attempt to "scale" them based on opportunity to drive in runs in different situations? Thus allowing RBIs to have some kind of meaning, but only when put in comparison of opportunity. Or is this forbidden thinking in sabermetric land?

Klaw
  (2:08 PM)

That's been done, but there's no evidence that there are hitters who are especially good at driving in runners beyond what you'd expect from their overall hitting ability, as expressed in context-neutral stats like AVG/OBP/SLG and so on.

Will (San Jose)

Have you read Fforde's Shades of Grey yet?

Klaw
  (2:09 PM)

It's on the shelf.

JCVD (LA)

Is there a clause in Strasburg's contract that he can only throw 100 major league innings this year? and what possible purpose would that serve?

Klaw
  (2:10 PM)

No, it's not in the contract - I'm not sure that that would be legal - but it could have been a handshake agreement between the parties. The idea may have been to prevent having him overworked.

Gabe (Atlanta)

Is Heyward's strikeout rate right now indicative of him just learning major league pitchers, or is it something to worry about?

Klaw
  (2:10 PM)

He's the age of a typical college sophomore. It's nothing to worry about.

Miles (Chicago)

Hey Keith- Just wondering, how long does it take to play Settlers of Catan? Is it closer to Risk? or to Checkers? (time-wise...not game-play wise)

Klaw
  (2:11 PM)

1-2 hours depending on how many players and how insane you are.

Tom (Chicago)

First round bye in NHL? Do you not know the format at all? Or were you implying the 8 seed is a de-facto bye. Try running that theory by the Capitals today.

Klaw
  (2:11 PM)

It was a joke. The part about *everyone* getting a first-round bye should have been a clue.

Andrew (Middlebury, VT)

Lincecum or any other pitcher in baseball right now? Yesterday's outing was absurd

Klaw
  (2:11 PM)

No, yesterday's outing didn't count because he didn't get a win. Did you miss that memo?

Cliff B. (Las Vegas, NV)

Yesterday, Lou Piniella got angry at a reporter questioning whether Lou should have bunted during one point in the game. Bunting, for the most part, seems to be a lost art in MLB today. Why don't more teams do it? I know everyone is in love with the HR but small ball works. Suicide squeezes are the most under-utilized play in baseball IMO.

Klaw
  (2:13 PM)

"Small ball" nets small results. I am fine with the squeeze play - you're trading an out for a run if it succeeds - but the standard sacrifice is usually a net negative. Bunt for a hit or swing the bat.

Klaw
  (2:14 PM)

OK, back to the phones - also got some radio today, 2:45 on the FAN in Toronto, 3:30 on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philly, and on Baseball Tonight on ESPN Radio between 7 and 8 EDT. Thanks!